Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan has become the nationally recognizable face for a new guard of Chicago chefs, with an ever-growing list of international accolades for Blackbird, The Publican, avec, Big Star and Publican Quality Meats.
Passionately seasonal, unconventionally creative and dedicated to the inspiration of classical cuisine, Kahan has earned the praise of many who claim him to be one of America's most influential working chefs. "I grew up around food," Kahan said. "My father owned a delicatessen and a smokehouse in Chicago. When I wanted to make a buck, I would help my dad take the fish out of the brine, hang them on the racks and wheel them into the smokehouse."
After a brief post-college stint as a computer scientist, Kahan took a job in the kitchen of Erwin Drechsler's Metropolis, where he quickly realized his own true calling. Throughout his 15-year apprenticeship and advancement in Drechsler's kitchens at Metropolis and erwin, and later for award-winning Chef Rick Bayless at Topolobampo, Kahan developed his own relationships with Midwestern farmers and integrated many of their offerings into dishes that he created for those restaurants.
In 1999, shortly after Blackbird opened, Food & Wine placed Kahan on its Best New Chefs list, recognizing his highly individual approach to cooking and the talent that Chicago diners have celebrated for years. Years of accolades and awards followed until, in 2007, Kahan was honored by his selection as a James Beard nominee for Outstanding Chef in 2007, 2009 and 2011, as well as earning the title of James Beard Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004, an amazing achievement for a chef without a cookbook or TV show to promote his name nationally.